Middlesex’s latest Irish import Andrew Balbirnie hopes for his big break at Lord’s

16:16 18 April 2014

Andrew Balbirnie

Andrew Balbirnie

Matt Bright

The path from Dublin to Lord’s is a well-trodden one – and Middlesex have another Irish import aiming to follow in several sets of illustrious footsteps.

First to blaze a trail across the Irish Sea was Ed Joyce, who spent almost a decade at Middlesex and captained the county to Twenty20 Cup success in 2008 before moving on to Sussex.

Next came Eoin Morgan, now Middlesex’s limited-overs captain and one of England’s top 20-over and 50-over batsmen, and the hard-hitting Paul Stirling, a mainstay of Ireland’s international side.

Now another Dubliner, batsman Andrew Balbirnie, is determined to make the breakthrough at Middlesex this summer after impressing in the second XI last season.

“When I was growing up and playing cricket in Dublin, you looked for the scores and saw Ed Joyce making hundred after hundred for Middlesex,” he said.

“He definitely set the benchmark for the Irish guys coming over and since then there’s been a great link between Ireland and Middlesex – it’s such a homely club and everyone makes you feel so welcome.

“When I had the chance to come over here I didn’t have to think twice about it. Now I’ve got to work as hard as I can and take my opportunity when I get it.

“We’ve got so much strength in depth, with some top-class batsmen, and I know it will be hard to get into the first team. There are players pushing for higher honours and deservedly so.

“But this is a runs business. If I can do well in the second XI, then I’m confident I might get a look in towards mid-season, when there’s a lot of cricket bunched together and there might be opportunities for the younger guys.”

The 23-year-old right-hander – who will be playing club cricket for North Middlesex when county commitments permit – was a regular member of the team that shared the Second XI Championship trophy with Lancashire last season.

However, Balbirnie was more prolific in the shorter forms of the game, heading the batting averages in the Second XI Trophy and finishing just behind Adam Rossington in Twenty20.

That is unsurprising given that, like his compatriots, he developed in an environment geared towards limited-overs cricket – but Balbirnie feels his experiences in England are gradually shifting that focus.

“I’d played one-day cricket all the way up in Dublin and it did take me a couple of months or so to get used to the longer format of the game,” he admitted.

“It’s a matter of being more controlled, knowing when to play your shots and you get a feel for it watching other guys bat for long periods of time, because it is painful to be out in the field watching lads get runs.

“Before I came to Middlesex, I was fortunate enough to spend a summer with the MCC Young Cricketers and obviously I’ve played more three-day stuff since then, which is great because you have more time to bat.

“That’s probably my favourite format now, which wasn’t the case when I came over, and I feel I’ve got better at it. I think playing the longer form of the game is the ultimate test.”

Balbirnie’s versatility on the field should strengthen his prospects of a first XI call-up – as well as bowling off-breaks, he has also donned the wicketkeeper’s gloves when required.

He added: “You don’t see many players now who are just keepers – they tend to bat at six or seven and are quite destructive batsmen.

“It’s a very hard skill and we’re quite lucky here in that we have John Simpson and Adam Rossington, who are two of the best young keeper-batsmen out there.

“Last year I kept for a week or two in the second XI and it is another part of my game I can use. If two of the lads went down in quick succession I’d happily fill the void, as long as they trust me with the gloves!”


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

57 minutes ago

Jared Robinson scored Haringey’s seventh and final try in his last game for the club as the Rhinos halted West London’s winning start to the season and jumped into second place in the Herts/Middlesex Division Two table.

Spurs Ladies’ latest hat-trick hero Wendy Martin says the Lilywhites are benefiting from the focus they have put on their attacking play and finishing after they took their remarkable tally to 26 goals in three games.

Yesterday, 16:41

Saracens winger Sean Maitland has hailed Nick Tompkins’ mental strength after the 21-year-old centre scored a try and took the man of the match award against Scarlets on Saturday, having only being added to the starting line-up moments before kick-off.

Yesterday, 15:24

UCS Old Boys remain inside the bottom two places in Herts/Middlesex Division One after a 46-7 home defeat to London Welsh Druids on Saturday condemned them to their fourth successive defeat.

Yesterday, 13:01

Arsene Wenger turned 67 on Saturday, but his team failed to give him the birthday present he coveted most – three points against Middlesbrough.

Yesterday, 12:30

Mauricio Pochettino says Harry Winks is capable of playing in front of the back four by himself in Tottenham’s new system as the Lilywhites prepare to visit Liverpool in the League Cup tomorrow.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Spurs played out their second goalless draw in the space of five days after a 0-0 tie against Bournemouth on the south coast. Here are five talking points.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Spencer McCall is immediately targeting a new objective – avenging Hendon’s opening day defeat to Worthing – after their FA Cup dreams evaporated at Boreham Wood.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport


Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more. Boots is the number one choice when it comes to purchasing daily essentials.

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now